The bean sprouts market is characterised by stability. Supply and demand are in good balance. Yet the product is increasing in popularity. Consumers know how to find the sprouts, and because of that the product now has more uses than before.
If there’s one person who can talk about bean sprouts, it’s Tonnie Mulders. For 27 years he was active in the production of bean sprouts and customer contact for a family company in Kerkdriel, the Netherlands. Three years ago, he struck out on his own. “I couldn’t resist,” Tonnie smiles. The company was given the name Mulders Top Sprouts. “We started from scratch. That was quite a challenge. We now have a modern production facility of 1,000 square metres at our disposal in Ammerzoden. An engineering firm designed a modern installation for the production of bean sprouts. Everything possible has been done to create a new design that ensures we can grow the best quality of bean sprouts, so that we can always provide the customers with fresh product. I conducted the installation and completion of the new nursery in part with my sons.”
From bean to sprout
Bean sprouts are mung beans that sprout in water. This process takes a week, according to Tonnie. “We have various production rooms where the growing process takes place at the same time. That way we can always produce fresh bean sprouts. We harvest four or five times per week. The nursery trays are then thoroughly cleaned, and the process can start again.”
The yield is sent to buyers in the processing industry, among others, year-round. A lot of bean sprouts are also sent to suppliers of Asian restaurants. “That’s still an important market for us. I see it as our challenge to offer better than average product. The bean sprout variety we supply has a firm quality and bright white colour that makes our customers happy. We like to think with the customer. Due to the short lines in our company, customers tell me directly what’s going on and we can quickly switch when they have questions or wishes.”
Bean sprout growers are part of a fairly stable market. “We always produce more kilograms than our permanent customers ask for, so that we have room to meet increasing demand or demand from new customers.” In recent years, Tonnie has seen the market changing. “Prices rose a bit. Cost price has become higher. This is because of stricter regulations as a result of the outbreak of EHEC in Germany a few years ago. We work according to a strict hygiene plan, and every month we send samples to the lab to guarantee the quality of our products.”
Tonnie thinks there are more opportunities for bean sprouts on the market. “It isn’t just used in Asian recipes anymore. Consumers are finding creative uses for the sprouts. Nowadays, people want to eat delicious and healthy food without spending hours in the kitchen. Bean sprouts, which contain a lot of vitamin B and C and minerals, do well in salads and stir-fried recipes, for instance.”
Mulders Top Sprouts